Professor Emeritus' new book highlights work of Emma Bell Miles

Professor Emeritus Grace Toney Edwards

Radford University English and Appalachian Studies Professor Emeritus Grace Toney Edwards is the editor of the newly released book, "The Common Lot and Other Stories: The Published Short Fiction, 1908-1921," by Emma Bell Miles.

The book is a collection of 17 narratives written and published by Miles in magazines across the United States in the early 1900s. The stories are driven by her "singular vision of the mountain people of her home in southeastern Tennessee," Edwards said.

Edwards penned the book's introduction as well as opening commentaries about each of the 17 stories. The book, released this month, is published by Ohio University Press.

"For 35-plus years – going all the way back to my days as a doctoral student – I have studied, taught and lectured about the work of this East Tennessee author and artist," Edwards said. "She was such a marvel for her time and place; in her fiction and non-fiction, she became a crusader for women's rights when such a thing was unheard of in the mountain South."

Miles' stories were published in prominent magazines, but for a hundred years now, they have been hidden in largely inaccessible library stacks, Edwards said.

"Recognizing their worth on multiple levels, I set out to collect all the stories, edit them, write an introduction to her and her work and to get them out of those hidden stacks and into the hands of 21st century readers," Edwards said. "Thanks to my work and Ohio University Press, that goal has now been accomplished."

Edwards participated in a book signing at the official launch of the book at the Appalachian Studies Association Annual Conference in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, on March 19. She will be promoting The Common Lot and Other Stories with a book signing and lecture on April 21 at the Christiansburg Book Club at the Christiansburg Presbyterian Church. She will have a signing and reading at the Signal Mountain Public Library in Signal Mountain, Tennessee. The date is yet to be determined.

Chattanooga's NPR station WUTC interviewed Edwards about the book. The conversation can be heard on the station's website.

Edwards, who retired from Radford University in 2010, was the founding director of the Appalachian Regional Studies Center and chair of the interdisciplinary Appalachian Studies Program. In 1990, she was awarded an Outstanding Faculty Award by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Other awards include the Distinguished Scholar and Service Award of the national Appalachian Studies Association (1999), Educational Service to Appalachia Award given by Carson-Newman College (2006) and the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Alumni Award from Appalachian State University (2011).

Mar 18, 2016